The End of Marking Timeby Cj West
Gifted housebreaker, Michael O'Connor, awakens inside an ultramodern criminal justice system where prison walls are replaced by surveillance equipment and a host of actors hired to determine if he is worthy of freedom. While he was sleeping, the Supreme Court declared long term incarceration to be cruel and unusual punishment and ordered two million felons released. The result was utter chaos and the backlash from law-abiding citizens and police departments reshaped the United States. Felons now enter reeducation programs where they live freely among the population. At least that's what they think. In reality they are enslaved to an army of counselors and a black box that teaches them everything they failed to learn from kindergarten through adulthood. Michael believes he's being tested by the black box, but what he slowly begins to realize is that everything he does is evaluated to determine whether he lives or dies.
- 22 West Books
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.59(d)
- Age Range:
- 17 Years
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The End of Marking Time is a thriller, but a different kind of thriller. Although it might be set in the future, it could also be an alternate reality. Nothing in the technology or setting seemed beyond the reach of what is possible today, or at least what might be shortly. The only significant thing that had changed was our approach to "rehabilitating" criminals. The premise the book is built on is that while the protagonist, convicted criminal Michael O'Connor, was in a coma, the U.S. Supreme court made a ruling that long term incarceration constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. When Michael awakens from his coma, he is under the care of a replacement criminal justice system. I found myself rooting for Michael, a character that on the surface seems like he should be the bad guy. Michael's struggle to understand expectations under the new system and the discovery that not everyone wants him to succeed provides the needed conflict. The new system and imagining how someone would react to such an extreme change was thought provoking. I found The End of Marking Time gave me everything I look for in a thriller, but with a storyline much different than the norm. **Originally written for "Books and Pals" book blog. May have received a free review copy. **
The book held me spellbound, and for days after finishing reading, it's all I could think about. To say the ending was a surprise is an understatement. It was a shocker! What an imagination... I want more from this author.
This fiction is a disturbing account highlighting the seriousness of the problems within the prison system. The tale is a bit off the beaten track, borderline experimental and told in a unique and particular way. The protagonist, Michael O'Connor, an accomplished thief since a very young age, is finally caught after a long string of burglaries. He never considered what he was doing to be abnormal or even wrong but the justice system saw it differently, his lack of remorse earned him a stiff sentence. His luck took another drastic turn on his way to prison when a fellow prisoner's breakout earned him a bullet and four years in a coma. During the four years laps, the judiciary system is overhauled and a stronger emphasis is placed on re-education instead of incarceration. Under the new system, Michael's world changes again, he is required to wear a locator bracelet, further his education and function as a law abiding citizen. The system is designed to educate, test and measure the decisions he has to take in normal life. His past history takes its toll and he finds it difficult to understand what is expected of him. At what point will he realize that his decisions determine his freedom and could possibly have life or death consequences. The story is told mostly in Michael's own words, the language and tone reflect an easy-going and simple protagonist. The author presents an interesting look into the reform of the penal system. He has written quite a dystopian scenario regarding crime and its punishment, an untypical mystery with a psychological twist. I had a hard time getting into the story, although it was captivating enough at first, as I read on, my interest dwindled. I slowly lost empathy for Michael as he spun in circles trying to solve his assignments, I found myself not caring or interested in his predicament even when it took an unpredictable turn. The end result left me totally un-fizzled. I had accepted the fact that this looser would never see the light or be an asset to society. Yes Mr. West, I did press that red button....Was this your objective? The novel may not have been one of my favourites; however it did succeed in stimulating my thoughts towards the justice system.
Wow, this story was very cool and well put together. From the perspective of the main character you feel and see everything through his eyes and thoughts. This is a great futuristic world type story with a clever invention of the criminal justice system. It's also a great conversational piece and one that I think could spark some heated debates later on. This title gets a high recommendation from me and it's one that would work awesome in any book group and classroom setting.
The concept for this book is both fascinating and troubling. C.J. West set this book in the near future, at a time when our justice system has been dismantled and replaced by a whole new program with a whole new set of rules. Michael, the main character, is a career criminal. His crimes have all been nonviolent, yet it is questionable as to whether he will be able to conform to society. West did a great job of portraying Michael, forcing readers to look at him as the troubled young man he was and showing us what brought him to the place he found himself in. The ending caught me off guard and, I have to admit, bothered me tremendously. While some spots in the middle lagged a bit for me, overall I found the writing quite good and the story compelling.